It’s been 4 days since Tris spoke to Tori. In that time, the Erudite community has published two more articles like the one Peter read—criticizing Abnegation in general and Tris’s father Andrew in particular.
Tension is building between Erudite and Abnegation, and thus between the different factions of the city. It seems likely that war and a breakdown of the city’s structure is on the horizon.
Tris takes a walk by herself. She considers all the hallucinations she’s faced in the past few days: drowning, catching fire, watching her family bleed to death, and—in the most recent hallucination—being forced to shoot her own family. Thinking about these episodes makes Tris realize something: she’s always been Dauntless, even when she lived in Abnegation.
Soon after, Tris goes through another simulation: in this simulation, an armed man forces her to shoot her own family (similar to an earlier simulation she experienced). In the middle of her hallucination, she looks up and sees Four standing beside her—“I know this isn’t real,” she says. Tris wonders if Four is also Divergent.
Tris puts two and two together: if Four could identify her own Divergence, he’s probably Divergent, too. It’s notable that Tris’s nightmares continue to revolve around her family’s deaths—she’s still anxious about abandoning her parents.
Every evening now, Tris falls asleep while her peers cry and scream: they’ve been far more shaken by their hallucinations than she has. On this particular evening, she returns to her dormitory to find the new rankings. She’s surprised to see that she’s been ranked first, just ahead of Peter. Tris notices Peter giving her a look of pure hatred. Peter shouts that Tris is manipulating everyone around her—pretending to be a weak girl in order to get an advantage in the rankings. Will seems curious about this, and he asks Tris if it’s true that she’s manipulative, but Tris denies it. Frustrated, she leaves the dormitory and tries to find somewhere to be alone.
Where before Tris was the weak, insecure one, now her peers have shown their true colors: they have deep psychological weaknesses (and perhaps scars), laid bare by the hallucinogenic serum. Because of her Divergence—and, perhaps, her happy childhood, thoughtfulness, and maturity as a human being—Tris is less susceptible to the serum’s influence. Once again, the spirit of competition and strength in Dauntless assumes a selfish motive for everything, so everyone naturally believes that Tris is manipulative.
Outside the dormitory, Tris runs into Lynn, Uriah, and Marlene. They congratulate her on her high ranking, and tell her she’s practically guaranteed a spot in the top ten because of her performance so far. Lynn, Uriah, and Marlene are also very highly ranked in their own, separate standings for the native-born Dauntless: they’re all in the top four. Tris’s friends show her the guns they’ve borrowed: they plan to use them to practice their aim (Lynn assures Tris that the guns aren’t real; they shoot pellets).
Tris now seems closer to the native-born Dauntless than the transfer recruits, and it’s not hard to see why. Because the native Dauntless aren’t vying for a mere ten spots, they’re more secure in their status in the world, and thus a little less competitive. Tris, by the same token, doesn’t have to worry about being attacked or sabotaged while she’s around Uriah.
As the friends practice their aim, Four interrupts them. He explains that students aren’t allowed to practice with guns so late in the day—he orders everyone back to their dormitories, and promises not to tell Eric about their indiscretion. Tris wonders to herself if Four has read the Dauntless manifesto, which praises the value of standing up for the weak and helpless. As Tris walks back to her dormitory, Four tells her not to worry; “It’ll be over soon.” Reflexively, Tris grabs Four’s hand, and her heartbeat quickens.
Tris has become more mature, and is now ready to question her authorities’ leadership—thus, she wonders if Four is aware how corrupt the Dauntless have become. Tris continues to be attracted to Four, as his combination of toughness, sensitivity, and intelligence seem to mirror her own (and he’s also generally portrayed as just an ideal “love interest” for her).
Back in the dormitory, Tris gets in bed. She wonders if it’s really worth it to be Dauntless. Late at night, she gets up to drink some water and overhears Eric talking to a woman she doesn’t know. The woman reminds Eric that his priority is rooting out “Divergent rebels.” Eric promises to find the rebels, acknowledging that it was the mysterious woman who had him appointed to the Dauntless government in the first place.
Previously, Tris had been eager to be accepted as Dauntless, but now that she stands a chance of becoming truly Dauntless, Tris begins to doubt whether it’s worth it—especially now that she knows how corrupt and violent the faction as become. This mirrors the way Tris realizes her danger to Eric and the Dauntless leadership: she can never really be Dauntless because she’s Divergent.
As Tris listens to this exchange, she feels someone pull her to the ground and cover her eyes and mouth—it’s Peter, along with some other boys. Cackling wickedly, Peter carries Tris to the chasm. Tris, now blindfolded, realizes that one of the other boys who’s carrying her is Al.
We’ve already seen Peter sabotage his fellow recruits in order to get ahead in the game. Here, we’re shocked to find that Al is in on the plan, too: he’s allied himself with a stronger bully and turned against his former friend.
Tris senses that she’s very close to the chasm railing. She bites the hand that’s over her mouth, and receives a punch to the face in return. Suddenly, Tris hears cries and shouts. A few moments later, Four pulls the blindfold off Tris’s face—he’s defended her from Peter and the others.
Tris is tough and self-reliant, but not to the point where she can fight off a group of boys. She continues to depend on Four to survive—as evidenced by this scene, in which he seems to save Tris from being murdered.